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“Cookes Leaning Against Dore-Postes”
TAYLOR, John. St. Hillaries teares. Shed upon. All professions, from the judge to the pett fogger. From the spruce dames of the exchange, to the durty walking fishmongers. From the Coven-Garden lady of iniquity, ot the Turne-bal-streete-Trull, and indeed from the Tower-staires to westminster Ferry, for want of a stirring midsomer terme, This year of disasters, 1642. Written by one of his secretaries that had nothing else to doe. London: N.p., 1642.
4to. One woodcut initial. 8 pp. Modern full red morocco by Laurenchet, gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers. $2,500.00
The FIRST EDITION of John Taylor the Water Poet’s humorous description of London at the outbreak of the English civil war. After noting how empty Westminster Hall and the courts had become (“as silent as a Puritan conventicle when the lights are out”), Taylor provides a vivid description of the effect of civil war on London’s restaurants and taverns: “And you are no sooner out of the Hall-yard but entering into Kings streete, you finde the Cookes leaning against the Dore-posts, ruminating upon those Halcion Termes, when whole herds of Clerks, Solicitors and their Clyents, had wont to come with their sharpe-set noses, and stomacke, from the hall, and devoure the Puddings, and minc’t Pyes by dozins, as swiftly as a kennell of Hounds would worry up a dead horse, And now the Courts are risen before they are hungry, The Tavernes, where an Iron Mill would hardly have drown’d the noise of the yawling boyes, the Bar-bell, the sidling, and roreing above staires, now so silent you may rock a child asleep: The spruce Mistris that had wont to sit in the Bar, domineering over the Drawers and not to be spoken withall if you would kisse her arse to speake with her, now so familiar, bids you so heartily welcome, and will come and joyne her halfe pint with yee, and let you salute her, and thanke you, And thinke it very well if all that courtesie will invite to mount the reckoning to a pottle.” Taylor goes on to joke about the availability of lodgings, how the expensive prostitutes with eyes “like glistering comets” are now filled with grief at the lack of trade, and the gallants are now gone, all due to “the Roundhead” who “sneakes into the corners of the City, and after a licking of his lipps, a spitting, and a casting up his ugly eyes towards the place hee is not worth to looke at, hee whispers a tale through his rotten Nose, of a great danger that is falling upon the Kingdome.”
John Taylor (1580-1653) was an eccentric author who after being pressed into service in the fleet of the Earl of Essex, worked for a time as a waterman on the Thames River. He wrote a very large number of satirical pamphlets and poems, all of which are highly sought by collectors interested in the period. He was famous for taking various trips with the intention of writing about his experiences and publishing his accounts afterwards, often at the pre-arranged expense of his subscribers. One such trip was taken with a vintner in a paper boat from London to Queenborough in Kent. They had two stockfish tied to two canes for oars and managed to go three miles before the bottom fell to pieces.
¶ ESTC locates the following copies: British Library, Cambridge (two locations), Guildhall, Lincoln Cathedral, Oxford (four locations), University of Western Ontario, Yale, Huntington, Folger, Newberry Library, University of Chicago, Harvard, Princeton, and University of Texas (Austin); Wing T508. Another issue came out in the same year although precedence has not been determined.


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